1 & 2 Timothy - Lesson 5

By John Harrison

Being Nourished on Godly Teaching

(1st Timothy 4:1-16)

Objectives: By the end of this session the learner will be able to:

  1. Describe what false teaching Paul fought against.
  2. List what we can do to get nourished in godliness.

Teaching Aids and Materials:

  1. Easy to understand Bibles for every student (CEV, RSV, NAV, NIV, NRSV, etc.).
  2. A marker board and/or chalkboard.
  3. A copy of TV Guide.

Lesson Plan for Conducting the Class

Introduction: (5-8 minutes)

  1. Begin class by welcoming members and any visitors; make all necessary class announcements.
  2. Have the class led in prayer. The prayer should include a request that God cultivate a hunger within the class for his work and lead the class into a better understanding of the truth within today's text.
  3. Explain to the class that in today's lesson they will learn the following three items:
  1. What ungodly teachings that Paul condemned;
  2. How we get nourished or trained in godliness;
  3. How a person trained in godliness should live.

Learning Experiences: (30 minutes)

Part I: What ungodly teachings did Paul condemn?

Have someone read 1st Timothy 4:1-5.

When Paul states that "the Spirit says" that in later times some will desert the faith (v. 1), he could have meant either 1) that he has received a recent communication from the Spirit warning of impending desertion or 2) that he is aware of previous communication from the Spirit that desertion of Christians from the truth will occur (see Acts 20:28-31). Either way, the reference to the warning from the Spirit helps to communicate to his audience that 1) desertion of Christians from the truth should not surprise anyone since it is inevitable if the Spirit prophecies it; 2) The desertion of Christians from the truth indicates that the faithful are living in the "latter days"; 3) God knew the desertion would occur but he is still bringing his plan to completion.

Paul says that what the deserters are listening to originates from deceiving spirits, demons and hypocritical liars (verses 1-2). Paul is not saying that every inaccurate teaching was taught by someone who was demonically led or a hypocritical liar.However, he does believe that there are deceptive spiritual beings whose intent is to lead Christians to reject certain behaviors which God approves. Paul gives two examples of the things these false teachers were prohibiting: marriage and abstinence from certain foods (verse 3). [Note: it is highly unlikely that the false teachers were telling Christians to abstain from all foods. Paul most likely meant that they were teaching Christians to abstain from certain kinds of foods.]

Q: What reasons do you think a false teacher might have given these Christians for abstaining from marriage and certain foods?

A: Allow enough time for 2 or 3 responses, and then tell the class that the most likely reason a false teacher taught Christians to abstain from marriage and certain foods was because they believed they were already living in the saved world and that ascetic practices either 1) comforted them, since their belief in living in a saved world was not being validated by their experience with the world, or 2) helped them implement their belief so they could change the world (i.e. by abstaining from marriage and certain foods, the saved world would become realized).

Q: What does Paul say is true that would help to point out that what is being taught by these teachers is false?

A: Paul says that "every creation of God is good and no food is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving" (v. 4). It should be noted that Paul is not saying that a Christian can eat whatever they want as long as they are thankful to have it. His point is merely to say that the kinds of food that the false teachers were forbidding Christians to eat are acceptable with the recognition that God is the one who provides our nourishment. You might also want to note that by the phrase"sanctified by God's word," Paul was probably alluding to a practice of citing biblical expressions as a means of saying grace before eating.Part II: How does one get nourished or trained in godliness? Have someone read 1st Timothy 4:6-10. Explain to the class that one of the major important concepts in 1st and 2nd Timothy is conveyed in the word "godliness" (Greek ? eusebia). You find this word used inverses 7 and 8: "? train yourself in godliness. For physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way." This word "godliness" conveys the idea of living in obedience to God and under the norms of respectable behavior. Q: How can Christians get "nourished" or "trained" in godliness? A: Several different answers can be given. For example, the class could mentionBible study, ongoing counsel from a mature Christian on how to live faithfully, reading devotional materials, daily prayer, etc. Allow enough time for 2 or 3 responses.

Part III: How does a person trained in godliness live?

Have someone read 1st Timothy 4:11-16.

Note to the class that Paul calls Timothy "young" (v. 12). We don't know what age Timothy was when he joined Paul's missionary journeys (see Acts 16:1-3). If he was a teenager at the time he joined Paul, and if he joined Paul sometime in the early 50s and 1st Timothy was written in the mid 60s, Timothy could be in his late 20s or early 30s. In addition, some authors of this period designate someone as "young" if they are under the age of 40. So in all likelihood Timothy is under 40 years old. Q: In what five things did Paul tell Timothy to set an example?

A: Speech, conduct, love, faithfulness, and purity. By "speech", Paul is not referring to eloquence but rather purity of speech. Several places in the NewTestament stress the importance of honesty and purity of speech (e.g. Matthew5:33-37; Colossians 3:8; James 3:1-12). "Love" and "faith" are two words that are used in 1st Timothy to summarize the entire Christian life (1st Tim. 1:14; 2:15; 6:11).

Q: What are some specific occasions when we have the opportunity to be an example to others in these qualities?

A: At home (tell how), in the workplace (tell how), on the athletic field (tell how).

Q: To what three things does Paul tell Timothy to give attention?

A: The public reading of Scripture, exhortation, and teaching. The word for "exhortation" conveys a similar idea to our word "preaching" and suggests the appeal that is made by someone to others to obey what is taught in Scripture.

Q: What are specific ways we can follow this admonition?

A: Regular church attendance, small group studies, individual study, family devotionals.

Q: Paul tells Timothy to be absorbed in the things that he has been telling him so that everyone will see his progress (v. 15). Should we be conscientious to live so that others will see we are progressing in godliness or does this violate Jesus' warning not to live in order to be seen by others (Matthew 6:1)? A: As is the case when interpreting all other Scriptures, it is important to appreciate the context for each teaching. Jesus was denouncing religious hypocrites who were concerned that others viewed them as pious. Paul is stressing the importance of leaving a good and clear example for others to follow. Paul is certainly not instructing Timothy to live a godly life so that others will think he is godly.

Application : (5 minutes)

Show the class your issue of TV Guide. Many Christians watch too much television and have to admit that sometimes their choice of television programs doesn't match the lifestyle which Paul talks about in 1 Timothy 4:11-16.

Ask the class to share examples of programs which are a model for speech, conduct, love, faithfulness and purity. Talk about 2 to 3 programs. Then ask them to share titles of shows which would not be an example of good speech, conduct, love, faithfulness and purity.

If your class is an audience of parents you could illustrate this application by pointing to specific computer and video games.

Assignment: (2 minutes)

This week, when you are watching television, reflect upon the lesson and ask yourself "Does this show I'm watching reflect the lifestyle I should be pursing to live as a Christian?" Does it portray the speech, good conduct, love, faithfulness and purity I desire in my life?

Lesson Wrap Up: (5 minutes)

We learned that we must be nourished in godliness or we may become susceptible to false teachings. We also learned that Christians should set an example in their speech, conduct, love, faithfulness and purity. These virtues can be properly fed by instruction fromScripture.

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